Skip to main content

Full text of "Caricature in Ancient Art"

See other formats


STOP 



Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world byJSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.istor.org/participate-istor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



from the pitfalls which beset him on every hand — 
knowledge acquired at first hand through study, or 
purchased through the professional decorator, and 
thereby lacking the charm of personal expression. Too 
often we find in the homes of otherwise educated per- 
sons incongruity as to styles, which offends like a 
discord in music, or a glaring grammatical error. 

But correctness as to period is not the main pur- 
pose of such a training as herein indicated. The 
greatest valuie of education, we will all agree, is to 
deepen and broaden and enrich human experiences. 
Whatever contributes to that end is of permanent 
value. Through the study of the homes of peoples 
of all ages, is developed a greater appreciation of the 
significance of the home. We find affinities in certain 
styles, we become conscious of our racial inheritance, 
and perhaps ally ourselves with the group of styles 
which seem best to express our own personality and 
ideals. And so the home becomes individual, per- 
sonal, expressing in tangible form the traditions, 
ideals, and spiritual affiliations of its occupants. 

"If all other evidence of civilization wer-* 
destroyed, and the furniture of the ages left intact, 
still could be traced, with reasonable accuracy, man's 
progress since that obscure age when he is said to 
have roamed like a beast in the forests. 

"The study of furniture is, in a measure, the 
study of the history of man's progress in war, peace, 
religion, art, politics, handicraft, commerce, — ^in short, 
in nearly every department of endeavor in which he 
has distinguished himself. ' ' 

Caricature In Ancient Art. 
David M. Robinson, Johns HopWns. 

This paper illustraied by more than fifty slides, 
traced the history of caricature from the time of the 
Assyrians, Egyptians, and Greeks down to late Roman 
days. Whether we believe or not the story about the 
two sculptors Bupalus and Athenis who are said to 

(65) 



have caricatured Hipponax, it is certainly in his time 
or shortly before that burlesque and caricature begin 
to appear on Greek vases. Aesops who lived as a slave 
on Samos in the sixth century had much influence on 
the development of caricature through his animal 
fabtes. A brief survey was given of the Ionic vases 
grouped under the title "Caeretan Hydrias" and of 
"Cabiric vases," the most important class of vases 
for caricature. iMany slides of unpublished as 
well as published vases were shown to make it certain 
that the Greeks were not merely idealists, and that 
caricature was very familiar to their art. The numer- 
ous burlesques of mythical subjects and dramatic 
scenes which occur mostly on vases of Southern Italy 
with representations of the Phlyaces, were also dis- 
cussed. Attention was then directed to terra-cottas. 
There are a few terra-eotta caricatures which date 
back to the fifth century B. C. and earlier, but carica- 
ture becomes very frequent in terra-cottas from the 
time of Alexander on. One of the most interesting 
examples is the terra-cotta Spinario from Priene 
which can be compared with the idealized Spinario in 
Rome. Many of the smaller terra-cotta caricatures 
were shown, and then the bronze grotesques which are 
associated with the mime were taken up and shown to 
form a connecting link between Hellenistic and Roman 
caricatures. 

The Romans carried on the practice of caricature 
and it furnished them much pleasure in public and 
private. The houses at Pompeii and Herculaneum have 
provided many examples in wall painting's and graffiti, 
parodying, as the Greeks did, their most sacred 
legends. A wall painting from Gragnano represents 
Aeneas carrying Anchises on his shoulder, and leading 
Ascanius by the hand, all pictured with the heads and 
feet of dogs. This is especially interesting because in 
Florence there are two intaglio gems representing the 
same scene without caricature. The caricatures of 
farm life and of a painter's studio are very good. Not 

(66) 



only mythology and private life were caricatured, but 
thei'e was also political, public, and personal carica- 
ture. One of the best political caricatures is that found 
at Pompeii, referring to the fight between the Nuceri- 
ans and Pompeians at a gladiatorial exhibition in the 
amphitheater at Pompeii. Another caricatures the for- 
um at Pompeii. The famous graffito from a house on the 
palatine identified by some as the Domus Gelotiana 
of Caligula's palace, no longer in the Museo Kircheri- 
ano but in the National Museum in Rome was the next 
discussed. It has been supposed by many readers, in 
view of passages in Tertullian and Tacitus which show 
that the heathen often mocked the Christians as wor- 
shipping an ass, that this is a caricature of the Cruci- 
fixion. Christ is represented in the form of a man 
with the head of an ass extended upon the cross, a 
Christian standing at one side with his left hand raised 
in the attitude of prayer. The inscription reads: 
Alexamenos worships God. Wiinsch and others think 
this is not a caricature and refer to the letter upsilon 
which appears to the upper right, and which has a 
cryptic significance in Egyptian Sethian tablets for 
the Gnostics. The paper ended with a discussion of 
the caricature of the Emperor Caracalla in two bronze 
statuettes at Avignon. He is holding a basket of bread 
which he is going to distribute probably, not to the. 
people at the Circus as some say, but to his soldiers. 
The X on the loaves indicates the tithe levied on the 
people for the maintenance of the anny. 

The Greeks and Romans had their "funnies," and 
caricature was a well-known diversion of classical art- 
ists. The art of caricature, if we can call it an art, is 
not new. As the ancients had no daily press or comic 
supplement, the channels of communication with the 
public were the open-air theatre, the decoration of 
vas.es, and other objects of every day use such as 
bronzes and terra-cottas and wall-paintings. Modern 
newspaper caricaturists have not been the creators 
even of political caricature. The mediaeval carica- 

(67) 



tures on the cathedrals at Chartres, Rouen, and Ami- 
ens, Leonardo da Vinci in Italy, Holbein and the Flie- 
garde Blatter in Germany, Goya in Spain, Callot and 
Philipon in France, Gillray, Bunbury, Cruikshank 
and Punch in England, Puck and Judge, Harper's 
Weekly, McCutcheon, Goldberg, Payne, Fisher, etc., in 
America, all have been continuing an instinct in human 
nature with which the Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, 
and Romans were perfectly familiar. 

Architecture as an Academic Subject. 
Alfred M. Brooks, Indiana. 

There was never a time when such vast sums were 
expended upon education as now, or when so many 
men were giving thought and labor, in a word, life, 
to the advancement of learning. In these latter days 
it has become so complicated that we often lose sight 
of its true object amid the endless theories and meth- 
ods, signified by equally endless applications, just as 
we lose sighi of the forest because of the trees. Bear- 
ing in mind the fundamental cause of this complica- 
tion, intense interest in education, no matter how 
greatly we may deplore it Ave cannot be heartily 
glad that it exists, because it is the veracious 
witness of a precious fact. Education has to 
do with training mens' minds, the intellectual 
side we style it for want of a better expression, 
and their hands, the practical or technical side ; such 
education as is at present called vocational. No one, 
not the man who holds the most extreme views as to 
either aspect of the subject, will deny that the two 
are really inseparable. The fault which many thought- 
ful people find with our over-complicated education is 
that it has placed a deep gulf, often impassable, be- 
tween the intellectual and technical sides of our nature 
which, while it is an indivisible nature, often appears 
to be divided simply because, by education, one side has 
been highly developed and the other sorely neglected. 
This is true of architecture, a subjct of education 
which has been divided more completely than most; 

(68)